UCC is sending students and researchers to COP26 in Glasgow

27 Oct 2021

From left: Delegates Dr Rhoda Jennings, Dr Marguerite Nyhan, Clara Felberbauer and Vera O’Riordan. Image: UCC

Delegates from UCC, the only Irish university to get ‘observer status’ at the climate summit, will travel to Glasgow by boat and train to reduce their carbon footprint.

University College Cork (UCC) is sending a group of researchers and students to the COP26 global climate summit being held in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November.

COP26 will see global leaders come together to discuss how the world can accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Future Human

UCC, which was earlier this year ranked as the world’s eighth most sustainable university, is the only Irish university to be granted official observer status at the summit. Delegates from the university will travel to Glasgow using low-carbon means of transport such as boats and trains and will contribute to events and discussions at the summit.

The group is led by UCC professor of energy engineering Brian Ó Gallachóir, who is also the director of the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for energy, climate and marine research, or MaREI. The centre conducts research around the climate crisis and ways to meet climate targets.

“As individual countries bring increased ambitions to COP26, I’m hoping to see stronger commitments to action from governments to match their ambitions and to deliver the necessary solutions, including from Ireland,” he said.

Mock COP

The delegation will also include UCC law student Alicia O’Sullivan, who previously represented Ireland at the first UN youth climate summit in New York in 2019. She has been involved in the organisation of a mock COP where students simulated the summit discussions.

“With our mock COP we gave students the opportunity to speak about issues that matter to them. We [the delegation] can then bring this with us to COP26 so the views of all UCC students can be heard.”

The event was led by Dr Fionn Rogan, a senior research fellow at the Environmental Research Institute and MaREI. The event saw Irish and European students negotiate on behalf of some of the world’s poorest countries that are most impacted by the climate crisis.

“This is designed to give the students a perspective that’s different to their own, which will hopefully lead to greater awareness of the challenges, as well as empathy,” Rogan said.

“A number of the student societies who helped to organise the mock COP participated by role-playing as disruptive environmental NGOs that will remind the student negotiators about their responsibilities to the environment and the climate.”

A UN report published today (27 October) warned that current national climate commitments put the world on track for a temperature increase of at least 2.7 degrees Celsius this century, which could have catastrophic implications for the climate.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic